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The Classic Family Movies That Inspired Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

MrmagoriumswonderemporiummovieposteI don’t have any kids, so I’ll have to borrow some nieces and nephews to have an excuse to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium again. It may not be everyone’s definition of a classic family movie, but it’s close enough for me. Not every movie has to be a knock-you-out-of-your-seat epic, and I’m sure that I’ll enjoy revisiting this one again in years to come.

Debuting director Zach Helm talked about the classic movies that influenced him during Mr. Magorium’s press junket at the Regency Hotel in Manhattan. After noting that he was inspired to write the script one rainy Sunday afternoon while he was working at a boutique toy store in Chicago, Helm says that the G-rated film is a conglomeration of the childhood memories of everyone who worked on it. “We constantly talked about over favorite kid’s movies, our favorite children’s books, our favorite toys, and we put it all together and made the big mess that we have.”

After noting that he was inspired to write the script one rainy Sunday afternoon while he was working at a boutique toy store in Chicago, Helm says that the G-rated film is a conglomeration of the childhood memories of everyone who worked on it. “We constantly talked about over favorite kid’s movies, our favorite children’s books, our favorite toys, and we put it all together and made the big mess that we have.”

In particular, he names “Mary Poppins, which we pay homage to, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ve probably seen the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup more than any other movie, and there’s a little bit of Groucho going on with Dustin Hoffman’s performance. The dinosaur scene with Henry is very similar to the Harpo-Groucho scene [the famous mirror sequence]. And when I watch the movie now I see little bits of Harold and Maude, which I loved when I was growing up, I see The Little Prince, I see Curious George, so much stuff in there, probably more than I could ever describe.”

Duck Soup’s mirror scene is just about the funniest three minutes of film ever shot—take a look. (All you need to know is that, for nefarious reasons, Harpo and Chico are disguised as Groucho.)

Read Dustin Hoffman’s thoughts on playing the starring role in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

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